Checking in on some of the New Hanover Community Endowment grant recipients
The 2023 grant cycle for the New Hanover Community Endowment is now open until September 22, so WHQR checked in with some of the recipients, NSEA Swim Foundation and Coastal Horizons, who received funding from the Endowment’s first round.
The 2022 Cape Fear Opportunities and Needs Grant cycle included about $9 million and went to 110 recipients, mainly for capital improvements and capacity building.
Applicants were encouraged to make the case for specific projects, which could be completed within a year’s time.
NSEA Swim Foundation, a non-profit swim team, was one of those — they received $75,000 to purchase and install a “bubble” for the pool. It’s a cover that will allow the Earl Jackson Pool to operate all year long.
That investment went into the Northside, which serves the Black community and is part of the reason the non-profit received the funds.
In NSEA Swim’s grant application, the non-profit said its also trying to “increase water safety and prevent drowning in the community.”
David Witmer is the board president of NSEA Swim. He said he saw the need to operate year-round in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.
“There were people coming to be saved at their houses, and they wouldn’t come out because they saw the water. [...] Our first goal was to teach not fearing the water because a lot of kids around here are taught that water equals death,” Witmer said.
Witmer said that this year alone about half of the free swim lessons were given to people who identify as non-white.
“We're seeing the success; our numbers are going up. [...]. Our lessons are open, so people want to come watch; people want to stop by and look through the fence. And we’ll invite them in, and they'll say, ‘Yeah, I have a grandson who can’t swim,’ And I say, 'Bring them on in, you know, when when you want to sign up?” Witmer said.
One of the team’s goals is to become the most diverse swimming team in the state. They are already close to being that, roughly 25% of their swimmers non-white. Witmer said the competitive swimming world is mainly White.
While this money has gone a long way, Witmer said he had to fundraise the rest of the overall $350,000 price tag for the bubble. But said he couldn’t do it without the support of the Endowment — and the City of Wilmington, which operates and staffs the pool.
“We can now focus less on building the operational side of it, and now using the operational side of it to grow the organization,” he said.
Elizabeth Redenbaugh is the development director for Coastal Horizons. They received a quarter of a million dollars for four capital improvement projects – the maximum amount awarded to any organization during this cycle.
“These are the needs that have been unfulfilled for years,” Redenbaugh said.
First, at their WHAT Clinic, they redesigned the building to provide additional privacy to their clients. They also designed a new conference room to discuss case management of their clients.
Second, at their youth shelter, they were able to update the kitchen and some of its bedrooms. They also put down new flooring and painted the rooms.
For the third project, Coastal Horizons added an additional dosing window to give medically assisted therapies (MATs) like Suboxone and Methadone.
“If you were to come to 615 Shipyard Boulevard in the morning, and see the folks that are lined up for that medicated assisted treatment, it would literally take your breath away. It is young, old, rich, poor, Black, White, and Hispanic. I've seen pregnant moms; I mean, it's just everybody,” Redenbaugh said.
She said roughly 400 people a day come through this facility to receive these medications, and this fourth additional window will help them, “get more people in and out as quickly as possible, so they can go back to their lives rather than stand in line.”
With this new dosing window, the grant also provided for the camera, laptop, and software associated with controlled substances. Further, at this dosing facility, they were able to update their waiting room, which included upgraded furniture, flooring, and painting.
Their fourth project is an update to their outdoor adventure center where they teach leadership skills and conduct team-building activities. The Endowment will only cover part of this — like NSEA Swim, Coastal Horizons will have to fundraise or find grants to cover the rest. Redenbaugh anticipates an additional $15,000 needed for this outdoor shelter because of the higher-than-average construction costs. At the moment, the organization is also in the process of securing a contractor for the project.
Redenbaugh said it’s important that the community knows they take all types of clients, as they provide services to people regardless of their insurance status, and said the majority of their patients are uninsured or on Medicaid.
This year’s grant cycle is set to be for more money, although Endowment CEO William Buster hasn’t publicly released a number yet — saying that will depend on the applications the endowment receives.